Friday, June 23, 2017

Gospel text for Sunday 25 June 2017

Matthew 10:24-39        Jesus said to the twelve disciples, “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!

“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father,  and a daughter against her mother, 
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

Reflection       Surely there is part of each of us that does not like Jesus’ words, “I come not to bring peace, but a sword.” We want Jesus to come like a 1960s peacenik, to love us and assure us that “it is all good.” But, it is not all good. Martin Luther King, Jr. puts it this way, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” It does not serve to put our heads in the sand and be silent. It is up to us to speak out against cruelty and oppression.

The sword that Jesus offers is the instrument for discernment, for separating what is of God from that which is not of God. As people of God, presumably good people, we are to pick up the sword and cut the fat away from the bone. We are to ask the difficult questions. What desires for security, esteem, power and control lead me to act at the expense of others? What customs, traditions or proclivities prevent my generosity? How do my habits, attitudes or humor ignite suspicion, dread or terror? Before we point our finger to villains outside ourselves, we must first examine and admit our own selfish and harmful inclinations. 

And then we get on our knees and pray, “O Lord, come quickly. Guide your sword to cut away all that keeps me afraid; afraid of being the revelation of your love in my thoughts, my words and my actions. Cut away my inordinate desires for security, esteem, power and control. Cut away my attachment to attitudes, moods and mindsets that elevate me at the expense of others. Cut away all that separates me from you and the compassionate care of all people.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. avers,  “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” This week Arizona’s Episcopal Bishop Smith was unequivocal “about the importance of the church taking a stand on moral and ethic(al) issues that affect our country.” He elaborates, “The pending vote on healthcare is now such a time” and invites us to join him adding our names to those opposed to the Senate plan.*

Like Jesus and MLK, Ghandi and Desmond Tutu, we are people of God growing up in a territory preoccupied with the acquisition of security, esteem, power and control regardless of the cost to humanity. Like Jesus and other nonviolent revolutionaries we, the people of God, are intended to be exemplars of life lived with God, facing the inevitable challenges of life in faith not fear, wielding the sword of care and compassion, defending the poor, healing the sick and caring for the vulnerable among us. Act now. 

“Do not be afraid.”
Call, email or fax our senators and thank them for their courage taking the moral stand to maintain healthcare coverage for children, the poor, the disabled, the sick, the aging and the middle class. 

* Senator McCain    
Phone: DC Office (202)224-2235 or Arizona (602)952-2410
Email:; Click on “contact”
Fax:    (855)952-8702
* Senator Flake    
Phone:  DC Office (202)224-4521 or (602)840-1891
Email:; Click on “contact"
Fax:    (602)840-4092

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